Too many visits to the doctor: General Practitioners Association rejects sanctions for insured persons

With too many doctor visits
General Practitioners’ Association rejects sanctions for insured persons

In view of the growing deficits in the statutory health insurance funds, the Union has called for a higher co-payment by the insured and new tariff models. The Association of General Practitioners is now reacting and is rejecting sanctions for insured persons who visit too many doctors.

In the debate about a higher deductible for those with health insurance, the Association of General Practitioners spoke out against penalizing patients who visit too many doctors. The association refuses to “think about any sanctions for patients now,” said Deputy Federal Chairwoman Nicola Buhlinger-Göpfarth to the newspapers of the Funke media group.

As a rule, people do not enjoy “doctor hopping” and do not like to sit in crowded waiting rooms, she said, referring to the accusation of an increasing “flat rate mentality” among policyholders from the Union. “However, many simply can no longer find their way in the increasingly complex healthcare system,” said Buhlinger-Göpfahrt.

“Need to end widespread flat-rate mentality”

The health policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, Tino Sorge (CDU), had called for a higher personal contribution by the insured and new tariff models in view of the growing deficits in the statutory health insurance companies on Sunday. “We have to end the widespread flat-rate mentality in statutory health insurance,” he told the editorial network Germany.

Buhlinger-Göpfahrt conceded that things “cannot go on as before” and that the CDU’s initiative would bring about an urgently needed discussion. The general practitioners called for more control and also wanted to create incentives for this, she emphasized. “The chaos can best be brought under control with a general practitioner primary doctor system in which patients always go to their permanent general practitioner first,” explained the vice-president of the association.

Lauterbach considers the advance by Sorge to be “unethical”

The association is therefore calling for the model of family doctor contracts to be expanded. “Specifically, policyholders who opt for this better and more efficient care should receive a bonus.” Instead of penalizing policyholders, it would reward those who make good decisions for themselves and for the health care system as a whole, she said. Family doctor contracts stipulate that patients always first visit their family doctor, who then refers them to specialists if necessary.

Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had rejected Sorge’s initiative as “unethical”. There is “no ‘flat rate mentality’ when visiting a doctor, Lauterbach wrote on the Internet service X (formerly Twitter). You are referred to a specialist and to the hospital – too much goes back “to too much economy in medicine”. The federal government is currently in the process to change this.

A deficit of around 17 billion euros is expected for statutory health insurance in the current year. For 2024, health insurance companies are forecasting a minus of up to seven billion euros.

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